SHILLONG, Jan 10 - There is intense pressure on Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh to resign after a case was registered by the police against the “proprietor, owner(s,) management” of a guest house, Marvelene’s Inn, run by the Home Minister’s family, in the ongoing investigation into a minor girl’s sexual assault case.
Marvelene’s Inn first surfaced in the case after a minor fled from the guest house and reported to the police about her sexual exploitation. She narrated before the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) that she was sexually exploited on several occasions for a year by several persons, including Mawhati MLA, Julius Dorphang.
The SCPCR has filed FIRs on behalf of the victim and Dorphang was arrested and sent to five days of police custody on Saturday. Several other people have been named in the FIRs, like businessmen, professors and others who assaulted the victim at different locations, but are yet to be properly identified and arrested.
Since no case was registered against Marvelene’s Inn, an FIR was lodged at Laban Police Station by the Civil Society Women’s Organisation and Thma U Rangli (TUR.) The organisations filed the case under Section 21 (1) of Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The Section broadly states that anyone who fails to report cases of sexual assault of a minor is liable to be punished.
Meanwhile, after the case was registered, Lyngdoh’s supporters in his constituency, Sohiong convened a meeting on Monday. They said that Lyngdoh had no role in the case and therefore he should not step down and let the police continue with their investigation into the case.
Both CSWO and TUR have demanded that the Home Minister step down to facilitate a free and fair investigation into the matter. These organisations have also called a rally on Wednesday to pressurise the Home Minister to step down.
The people in the meeting vehemently disagreed with the NGOs’ demand, claiming that Lyngdoh has not interfered with the police investigation so far and therefore should be allowed by Chief Minister Mukul Sangma to continue to run his office. Sangma, however, has maintained his silence on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Marvelene’s Inn management has claimed at a press conference here that they did not know the victim and that if at all the minor was brought to the guest house, it was done by some of the staffs without the knowledge of the management.
The police have arrested Wanlambok Khongsit, owner of the house where the minor girl was lodged after being brought to the State Capital by one Mamoni Parveen, allegedly a pimp, and her husband Sandeep Biswa. Both were earlier arrested. Khongsit surrendered before the police on Sunday and was remanded to two-day police custody by a local court here.
So far, the police have arrested eight persons in this case, including Dorphang.
State Assembly Speaker Abu Taher Mondal has informed the members of the House about the arrest of the MLA. “It is unfortunate that such an incident has happened. As per rules I have informed the members of the House about the arrest after the police gave information to me about it,” Mondal said.
The police today convened a meeting of guest house owners at the Sadar Police Station to emphasise the importance of maintaining a daily registry of their guests and also installing CCTVs. Incidentally, the CCTV was not working at Marvelene’s Inn when the minor girl was brought there.